Duration: 119 minutes. Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of disaster action, some violence, bloody images and brief strong language). On demand.
Butler is bad enough – not horrible – but the movie itself is quite watchable, albeit a lot darker than your average disaster movie. “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Poseidon Adventure” haven’t, in my memory, had any cruel kidnappings of young boys or hammer murders.
As a comet called Clarke approaches Earth, John (Butler) receives an automated text message from the Department of Homeland Security saying his family has been chosen to be relocated. He was told to travel to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia with his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), 8-year-old son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) – and no one else. They are confused. Is it a test? The comet had Hale-Bopp level excitement around it.
That’s when the family turns on the news and finds that a shard of space rock has hit Florida. “TAMPA GONE,” said the teleprinter. Get in the car, guys!
From then on, the revelations of the film by director Ric Roman Waugh are skillfully revealed. We learn that John is one of a handful of highly skilled professionals who have been chosen to survive in an underground base in Greenland: home to glaciers and a population the size of White Plains. Those who are not fortunate enough to receive a government text will turn to any method, including crime, to find their way on planes. Chris Sparling’s screenplay shows humanity at its worst.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a big deal if Butler and Co. just got on a flight and arrived on the island with ease. Roadblocks arise that make their journey painful and sad. Much of the weight comes from the smallest cast member Floyd, a deeply sentimental child actor who has a hard-hitting scene outside of another Air Force base. The poor child must cry buckets.
The ending, however, is too clear and obvious to conclude this messy story. There’s nothing unexpected, and we’ve all seen better CGI footage of destroyed cities in disaster movies for years. Roland Emmerich probably has a file full of them on his laptop.
It doesn’t matter. As far as Butler’s films go, “Greenland” could have been a lot worse. “The Bounty Hunter” was so horrible, after watching it I felt like… a comet had just hit Earth!